Bureau of Economic Geology

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Map of Austin"

June 7, 2019 12:00 PM
Chock Woodruff

Dr. Charles “Chock” Woodruff
Geologist, Bureau of Economic Geology

(with apologies to Wallace Stevens, American poet [1879-1955], who wrote “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” published in 1954)

In this presentation, we will explore the Austin area using maps at a range of scales, showing various themes, different vintages, and diverse views of both near-surface and subsurface geologic conditions.  The reference to blackbirds in the seminar’s title relates to the nest of raven chicks that have occupied a window ledge of the Texas Advanced Computation Center during the past two springs.  Those birds, a western species, are nesting in the ecological niche of crows, an eastern species, but their nest is within sight of the Balcones Escarpment a scant half-mile to the west.  This low-relief break in the landscape delineates the southeastern edge of the Great Plains of North America.  At this juncture between the Great Plains and the Gulf Coastal Plain, the Balcones Escarpment marks the boundary of the American West in both ecological and socioeconomic contexts.  My presentation will highlight several key facets of this geologic borderland.